Scarborough youths from Tropicana Community Services put on a proud performance of singing, dancing, drumming and poetry on Oct. 3 to celebrate 15 years with the Scarborough Youth Resources Centre.
Omar (Medals) Khan, 20, recited a poem he wrote about his friend’s death. Khan turned to Tropicana to offer support to others in need.
“I turned my friend’s death into a positive,” he said. “If any kid is going through something, if anyone needs someone to talk to, I’m here. All the problems that youth are facing in today’s society can be dealt with here.”
Khan earned the nickname (Medals) after winning so many awards for his high school’s track and field team for shot put. Showing off one of his gold medals, Khan said he’s training to go to the Summer Olympics in 2012.
Mary Hines-Henry, 17, has been coming to the centre for three years. She did a step dance performance which is one of the services offered at Tropicana.
The centre has taught her more than just rhythm. In the Sister to Sister program, she discusses racism, effects of media, self-esteem, and daily life issuses.
Jerema Hewitt, 20, has been coming to the centre since she was nine years old. Once at the receiving end of the centre’s services, she is now a mentor and initiates their programs like ARP (Arts Roots Perception). For Hewitt, Tropicana has been life changing.
“I was really shy, “she said. “I wouldn’t be able to speak or even perform. My first entrance into public performance was through Tropicana. “They helped me build my confidence. It’s a big family here.”
Tropicana started 29 years ago to address the 40 per cent highschool dropout rate among black youths, but have since expanded their services to provide counselling, employment help, daycare and more. It’s open to youths of all different backgrounds. MPP Brad Duguid presented the centre with a grant from the Ontario Trillum Foundation. The centre is located in Scarborough Town Centre.